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Naperville group commemorates U.S. quarter bearing likeness of first Chinese American movie star

A Naperville group will celebrate the Chinese Year of the Rabbit on Jan. 28 while also commemorating the release of a US quarter bearing the likeness of the late Chinese American actress Anna May Wong.

Chinese American Women in Action and Naperville Bank & Trust/Wintrust will host the free event from 11 am to 12:30 pm at 555 Fort Hill Drive in Naperville. Attendees will receive an Anna May Wong quarter in a red envelope as a Chinese New Year tradition.

The Anna May Wong quarter is the fifth coin in the American Women Quarters Program.

Wong was the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood. She appeared in more than 60 movies, including silent films and one of the first movies made in Technicolor. Wong was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

“We are proud to partner with Naperville Bank & Trust to celebrate the first US currency featuring an Asian American. Wong’s fight for fairness and representation continues to inspire us all,” said Nancy Chen, president of Chinese American Women in Action.

This undated file photo shows Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago whose body was found in the Tallahatchie River near the Delta community of Money, Mississippi, on Aug. 31, 1955. The case is one of nearly 100 unsolved racial killings that have been prosecuted under the FBI’s Cold Case Initiative.
– Associated Press

Advanced registration is required. For more information, email [email protected] or call (630) 881-8811.

Day of service

Volunteers will kick off the MLK Service Day Celebration from 10 am to 1 pm Saturday at Rolling Knolls Forest Preserves, 11N260 Rohrssen Road in Elgin.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall, and local elected and community officials will be in attendance.

Officials will discuss honoring the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by committing to a day of community service and highlighting opportunities to celebrate MLK Jr. Day throughout Cook County forest preserves.

In partnership with the Izaak Walton League-Elgin Chapter, volunteers will participate in restoration by removing brush around the pond at Rolling Knolls using loppers and bow saws.

On Monday, Jan. 16, the public can celebrate MLK Jr. Day by joining a litter cleanup effort at various forest preserves throughout Cook County.

‘Green Book’ exhibit

“The Negro Motorist Green Book” exhibit opens Jan. 29 at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie.

The exhibit highlights the history of “The Green Book,” the annual guide created in 1936 by Harlem postal worker Victor Green, providing Black travelers with information on restaurants, gas stations, department stores and other businesses where they were welcome during the Jim Crow era .

It was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian Candacy Taylor.

The exhibit offers an immersive look at the reality of travel for Blacks in midcentury America, and how the guide served as a resource for the nation’s rising African American middle class.

“The Green Book” offered critical, lifesaving information and sanctuary in an era of Jim Crow laws and “sundown towns” — communities that explicitly prohibited Blacks from staying overnight.

The museum is open Wednesday through Monday and closed on Tuesdays for field trips. Admission is free on the last Friday of each month starting Jan. 27 on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Reserve tickets at ilholocaustmuseum.org/winter-break-ticketing/.

Emmett Till honored

On Jan. 5, President Joe Biden signed into law the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2021.

The law provides for the posthumous presentation of a Congressional Gold Medal in commemoration of Till and Till-Mobley.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest level of recognition bestowed by Congress to highlight achievements and contributions of national significance. Fewer than 180 medals have been awarded in the nation’s history.

After her 14-year-old son was tortured and murdered, Till-Mobley arranged for a photo of his body to be printed in Jet magazine and held an open casket funeral in Chicago’s Roberts Temples Church of God in Christ. Her efforts to raise awareness of her son’s lynching sparked national outrage and was a catalyst for the civil rights movement. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made his “I Have a Dream” speech on the eighth anniversary of Till’s death on Aug. 28, 1963, during the March on Washington.

US Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois speaks to reporters after the signing of the Antilynching Act in 2022.

US Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois speaks to reporters after the signing of the Antilynching Act in 2022.
– Courtesy of Office of congressman Bobby Rush

“The gruesome and unjust murder of Emmett Till serves as one of the most well-known examples of a lynching in American history,” said US Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, the legislation’s House sponsor. “Without the courage and determination of his mother, Mamie, in keeping his casket open during his funeral, the world would not know what happened to him or the full horrors of white supremacy. We must honor Emmett’s life and his mother Mamie’s contributions to racial justice.”

Rush’s Emmett Till Antilynching Act, signed into law earlier in 2022, designates lynching as a federal hate crime for the first time in history.

Black spiritual artist

Aurora University will host “Majesty of the Spiritual” by acclaimed Black soloist Robert Sims and friends on Jan. 19.

The concert opens spring main stage events in the Celebrating Arts and Ideas at Aurora University series. It will begin at 7:30 pm in Crimi Auditorium at the Institute for Collaboration, 1347 Prairie St. in Aurora.

Robert Sims

Robert Sims

Admission and parking are free. Reservations are required. Call (630) 844-4924 or visit auartsandideas.com.

“The Majesty of the Spiritual” showcases Sims and friends celebrating and preserving one of the earliest Black musical contributions to the world — the spiritual.

Sims’ program pays tribute in film and song to three legendary living Black composers — Lena McLin, Roland Carter and Jacqueline Hairston. A Gold Medal winner of the American Traditions Competition, Sims has been praised for his moving interpretations of Black spirituals. He has given numerous recitals nationwide and in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

MLK ceremony

The city of Aurora will host its 38th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration ceremony, “Be a Drum Major for Justice, Equity, and Mentorship,” at 6 pm Monday, Jan. 16, at East Aurora High School.

The event will include youth performances, special awards, community announcements, and remarks from notable attorney Star Jones.

Jones is a former New York City prosecutor, best-selling author, Emmy-nominated TV host, and the first Black person to have a court television show. She has been on TV for three decades, offering her perspective on crime, justice, political and sociological issues.

Star Jones credits two mentors in her professional life -- Johnny Cochrane and Barbara Walters -- for guiding her toward a successful career in the law and media.  She will talk about the importance of mentoring during Aurora's 38th annual Rev. Dr.  Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration on Jan. 16.

Star Jones credits two mentors in her professional life — Johnny Cochrane and Barbara Walters — for guiding her toward a successful career in the law and media. She will talk about the importance of mentoring during Aurora’s 38th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration on Jan. 16.
– Courtesy of City of Aurora

Jones was mentored by Barbara Walters to be one of the original co-hosts of “The View.” She is the past president of the International Association of Women, an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and an advocate for women’s rights, equity, inclusion, and youth mentoring.

Nominations also are open for the 2023 MLK Service Above Self Leadership Award for elementary, middle school, high school, and college students who demonstrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to service.

To submit a nomination or to register, visit aurora-il.org/MLK.

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